Touching down in Dar es Salaam was, surprisingly, just as exciting on the fourth time as it was the first. I think that biggest difference now is the nature of the concerns I experience when first arriving. In the beginning I was afraid that I would not be able to communicate with anyone, that I would get lost, that I would do something completely unforgivable in the culture but would not be aware enough to realize it. Now my concerns are those similar to those I could feel in Canada as well. Will I be good at my job? Will I make friends in the new town I am moving to? Will I find a home church that I feel comfortable at? Will I fail to meet anyone’s expectations of me professionally and otherwise? Will there be success in all I do, or will I face any failure?
Well, I have been in Tanzania again for one week now. The first couple of days were spent in Chamazi and Dar es Salaam. My first day in Chamazi I sat down with the UVIKIUTA staff and we talked about the library that we have been working on since June 2008. UVIKIUTA took some time to express their thanks to ACTS and Canada for their support, and finished by emphasizing that UVIKIUTA was well aware that the money raised for the library is from mostly private donors who work hard in Canada and are giving their own money out of generosity. Because of this UVIKIUTA wants to be sure that all the money is spent responsibly, thereby honouring the donors. I felt their sincerity and wanted to pass that on to you all so that you realize what a wonderful community organization we are supporting.
On my second day here I made the 25 km journey from Chamazi to downtown Dar es Salaam to attempt to open up a bank account. It is quite the process and so I was thankful when I was introduced to a friend of a friend who was the bank manager at a Barclay’s bank in Dar es Salaam. He and I met and he gave me a long list of letters and identification that I would need to present to the bank in order to begin processing the account. The following days were dedicated to finding and writing these letters. It was a bit of an adventure, but after two days of running around everything was in place.
While downtown I also took some time to visit a couple of book shops. I found a few nice Swahili books and thought it may be well worth it to purchase them for the Chamazi library as a start. I hope that we can arrange the purchase of books by bulk, giving us lower prices. There is much more visiting to do in these shops still to be done and I hope to get the chance to do this early next week when I return to Dar es Salaam.
For now I am in Tanga, and came here a few days ago. I have moved into a small house with one bedroom, a sitting room, a kitchen and two bathrooms. I feel very blessed. It’s simple in Canadian standards, and some Tanzanian’s standards it may be simple as well, but it is definitely more than I am used to having based on past living situations in Tanzania. I was used to getting a small bed in a shared house, often no running water or consistent electricity. This house full of fans and showers is more than I could I ever ask for.
Since arriving in Tanga I have met with Venceslaus Shayo, the man working with the Catholic Church here and working on the student volunteer program with TWU this summer. We only had a short visit on the side of a busy street but it was an important one in which we reconnect and put things in gear. We plan to meet again tomorrow to discuss a few details of the program that will begin July 1st. He is very excited to see the students come from TWU.
I have also had a chance to meet with David Chanyeghea, the Executive Director of Tanga Youth Development Association (Tayodea). Tayodea is the group that ACTS and Under The Reading Tree (UTRT) have been working with in the small village of Kwekitui. Five years ago ACTS built a library in Kwekitui and now UTRT funds the librarian’s salary, library upkeep, and even had solar electricity installed in the library last month. Tayodea and I will be working a lot together this summer with a librarian’s conference coming up at the Kwekitui Library in August and plans to get more involved in library development on a macro level. Haki Elimu, a large literacy organization in Tanzania, has asked if they may use the Kwekitui library as a model to share with other schools across the country that does not have a library. David was very excited to share this news with me, and I was just as excited to hear it. This is a great way that we are encouraged to know that the Kwekitui library is a wonderful blessing and all those pioneers who have made it happen in Tanzania are a blessing as well.
So, to sum up the week so far in Tanzania, it has been a lot of touching base and getting excited about what is to come. It has also been a lot of establishing myself in my new home and making a long list of “to dos” for next week. For those of you who will choose to keep me in your prayers, please pray for protection from corrupt situations (corruption is a way of life here) and for new friendships with others involved in this literacy and community development work.
Thanks to all of you who have supported me and the libraries! I will try to continue to keep you all updated. If you have any questions or even time to drop me a word of encouragement you can email me firstname.lastname@example.org or even call me +255 719 176 281. I hope you are enjoying your summer wherever you may be J